Zayo plans to 'get more active' selling lit fiber to 35,000 buildings

Zayo CEO Steve Smith has been with the company since October 2020, and in those 10 months he’s been busy simplifying operations.

From 2007 to 2018, Smith was CEO and president of Equinix. Prior to joining Zayo, he was a managing director at the private investment firm GI Partners for a couple of years.

Smith spoke at the Cowen 7th Annual Communications Infrastructure Summit this week. He pointed out that Zayo is a 14-year-old company “that was a roll-up of 45 acquisitions.” He said the company had become “pretty complex” with six product groups. “We had go-to-market all over the place."

One of the first things he did was talk to Zayo’s top 50 customers, and they complained about confusing processes and slow response times. So Smith brought in an outside consultant, Brian Lillie, to help streamline operations. 

Steve Smith/Zayo
Zayo CEO Steve Smith

Zayo has since assigned a whole new team with a new leadership structure to focus on its top 40 accounts. It also revamped the way it handles 2,200 enterprise accounts, categorizing them by industry.

RELATED: Former Equinix CEO Smith takes the helm at Zayo Group Holdings

Lillie recently took the full-time role as chief product and technology officer at Zayo. And the company also announced some other leadership appointments, including Andrés Irlando as president, Marty Snella as chief of operations and Mike Mooney as chief legal officer.

Smith said that when he began at the company he had 15 direct reports, and now he has eight. “It's a lot easier,” he said. “Today I have two seasoned veterans that were left over from the previous leadership team and then six new leaders that have come in the last six to nine months.”

Irlando hails from Verizon Business where he was president of Public Sector. Smith also mentioned that Zayo has hired a new CIO who hasn’t arrived yet, saying, “She will join us from a very large hyperscaler.”

Smith wants growth

Smith said he’s initially aiming for high single-digit growth. 

Zayo has about 126,000 miles of fiber, both dark fiber as well as lit fiber, running to thousands of buildings and data centers in North America and Europe.

The company plans to “get more active around our 35,000 lit buildings where we really haven't taken advantage of selling that fiber on and off net,” said Smith. “So we're going to have a regional network sales team. We're piloting it in six markets now, and we're going to invest in this pretty heavily. So we're going to take advantage of the on and off net capability we have around these lit buildings that we really haven't done.”

He added, “If it all falls into place, where we're building our plan right now, we'll be much bigger. So scaling reach will be deeper around the world. I want to be growing at or above market growth rate and taking share.”

He sees a lot of opportunity for fiber from tower connectivity, data center connectivity as well as enterprise needs.

“One of the things that you'll see Zayo do is really double down on the core,” said Smith. “So you'll see us continue to play at Layer zero to Layer three. I don't think that we're going to be running to go up to the managed services part of the stack anytime soon. We have a lot of investment coming into the core of the company around fiber transport, packet and some emerging new services.”

He added that Zayo will make more investments in software-defined networking. “We're being invited by several players in the industry to help them build cloud fabric between data centers.”

Indiana fiber

In June Zayo acquired Intelligent Fiber Network (IFN), adding more than 5,000 route miles of fiber with on-net connections to nearly 1,000 enterprise buildings in Indiana.

Smith said Zayo will make acquisitions, such as the purchase of IFN, to “help us with this regional network services strategy.”

RELATED: Facebook lays fiber across the entire state of Indiana

Zayo is already doing business in Indiana along with Facebook. The social media company is in the process of laying fiber across the width of the state to connect a couple of its own data centers.

As part of that, Facebook is working with Zayo for an 85-mile fiber build that will connect downtown Indianapolis to the Illinois state line.

Indiana is one of Zayo’s six pilot markets for its regional sales strategy.